Posts Tagged With: fear her

No, I’ve met cat people

It was a Wednesday, and I was giving Edward a bath, when Emily popped her head round the door and announced she was going to work.

“What time will you be back?” I asked.

“No idea,” she said. “I’ll probably get drawn into something.”

So I have drawn her into this picture of the Tenth Doctor. I rock.


In our ongoing Nu Who marathon, we passed ‘Fear Her’ months ago, and the Tenth Doctor has long since regenerated. Indeed, the Eleventh is currently into his ‘new lease of life after Amy and Rory phase’, cavorting around the rings of Akhaten with Clara. (I seem to be the only one who actually likes this episode, or at least I thought I was until a recent reappraisal saw its other fans emerging from the woodwork, like the slaves at the end of Spartacus.) What’s annoying is that he has yet to shed a single tear over any of the deaths, or any of the departures. I know I didn’t either, but it’s hardly the point.

That doesn’t stop Daniel having an appreciation for Classic Who, of course, judging by the scene he played out with the Character Creations set last week: not content with building a wall and casting Peter Davison’s incarnation in the role of Donald Trump, I came in the other day to find the Sixth and the First Doctors emerging in what looked an awful lot like cosplay.

I only wish I could find the Seventh Doctor. Can somebody (hello Gareth) come up with an amusing, series-related suggestion?

Also this week: Daniel told us he had a dream where the Eleventh Doctor was having an adventure with Rose, “only she had an emoji face and she threw Captain Jack from the roof of a building”.

It took me all morning to find the right building, but eventually –


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Have I Got Whos For You (part 46)

It was a little after one in the afternoon and the six of us were gathered round the dining table. The conversation had – for reasons I now can’t recall – turned to the subject of boobs.

I mean, what is it with young boys and inappropriate table talk? If it’s not boobs or bottoms it’s fecal deposit, the colour and texture of vomit or the ins and outs (quite literally) of sex. We have a set of dining rules stuck on the wall, and number ten – the one I call them out on most frequently – is “Don’t talk about anything unsuitable for mealtimes.” Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps it’s like a magnet, an invitation to see how far they can push us before we inevitably snap.

“Anyway,” I eventually said, not entirely seriously but with an attempt to restore a modicum of decorum to proceedings. “You really shouldn’t say ‘boobs’. You should say ‘bosoms’.”
“Oh,” said Josh. “I thought that was that religion.”
“That’s Buddhism.”

Honestly? It’s easy to mishear things. Particularly if there’s one word that you’re accustomed to, and another less-used word sort of sounds a bit like it.


Is it a coincidence that I started to eat a lot of Brie right around the time I last saw ‘Fear Her’? I genuinely don’t think so.

My father grew up in Tunbridge Wells, and while my grandparents were alive we often went back there. You spend enough time hanging around Royal Victoria Place, certain things stick. I can still remember the grubbiness of the local Our Price, the semi-organised clutter of the small independent video game shop that was – as was so often the case with such things – there and then not there, like something from Terry Pratchett. And I can remember Fenwick, the department store that my grandmother insisted we visit one Saturday morning to have lunch, planning the whole thing with military precision and presenting, perhaps for the first time, an indication that her mental faculties were not what they were.

So in years to come, when I would familiarise myself with old Doctor Who stories, it was easy to misread ‘The Curse of Fenric’ as something entirely different.


Anyway: the whole thing with Buddhism reminded me of a conversation I’d had with Daniel a year or so ago in which we’d discussed watching New Who: I was at that stage still trying to pick out random episodes I thought he’d like, before we eventually made the decision to watch them all.

“I think you’d enjoy The Fires of Pompeii, actually.”
“What’s Pompeii?” he asked.
“It’s an ancient Roman city. They had a volcano.”
“Oh. I thought it was those crisps.”
“That’s Pom-Bear.”


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Is this burning an eternal flame?

It was 7:25, and I was pottering around the house, when Emily suddenly sat upright in bed. “Ah. Well, I guess we’re not going to see the torch.”

We’d both forgotten. The two of us had talked about it for weeks – debating the pros and cons, the logistics of getting everyone out of the house in time to get to the nearest point on the procession route, whether we should just watch it on TV. In the end it was decided we’d look at the weather on the morning. And then the morning arrived and it had gone clean out of my head, and hers.

I will spare you details of the madcap dash around the bungalow, getting everyone hastily in and out of showers and bundled into the Renault, and the laborious (and ultimately unsuccessful) hunt for eyewear (at quarter to eight I was flitting from room to room, scrabbling about like Velma in Scooby Doo, shouting “My glasses, my glasses! I can’t find my glasses!”). Miraculously, less than half an hour later everyone was in the car and heading out of town to Wallingford, which was the nearest stop on the route. Wallingford was, in my childhood, something of a family joke, being a town we visited once by accident when my parents’ Escort broke down on a planned excursion elsewhere, and being somewhere that in 1987 didn’t seem to offer very much. It wasn’t until years later when I’d moved out that I realised quite how charming it is, full of quaint shops and riverside walks and hidden passages, even though the one-way system is a nightmare to negotiate when you’re driving.

Emily passed out cereal bars and Capri Suns. Thomas sat reading a book. Daniel asked if it would be long until we saw Jamie and the Magic Torch, and we had to explain. Joshua was fairly excited about the whole thing, but I think this has less to do with the upcoming Olympics and more to do with the episode of Doctor Who that features David Tennant triumphantly ascending the steps of the podium to light the flame and thus release thousands of harmless microscopic aliens into the atmosphere. This scene, particularly Huw Edwards’ legendary monologue, is something I promised myself – and my other half – that I wouldn’t talk about at all today, because I think she’s heartily sick of it, and I can’t say I blame her for that: in our house it has become something of a meme.

The overflow car park was relatively full but there was still plenty of time to get a space and walk to the square. The crowds were about four or five deep, but Joshua found a spot at the front and Emily joined him a few minutes later. Thomas perched on my shoulders, eyes darting around. He seemed more interested in the no entry signs posted on the corners than in anything that was going on, but I was just grateful the assembled mob hadn’t put him off. We’ve sort of taken it for granted that the boys have picked up on the specifics over the past few weeks, but a quick interrogation this morning revealed that he knew nothing about what was actually happening, so I explained that the Olympics was just like school sports day, only bigger and with lots of countries taking part. We’d been waiting a few minutes when the police motorcade trundled round the corner, followed by assorted coaches and vans, and then a six-foot tall athletic-looking chap whom I didn’t recognise.

I am informed that his name is Dale Kamarata, and it must be said that he has absolutely fantastic hair. This chap, meanwhile, is none other than Raymond Blanc.

Apparently, the torch was picked up yesterday by Roger Bannister, the second of two celebrities I’ve heard about this week who I thought have been dead for years. After its stint in Wallingford and Crowmarsh, Sir Steve Redgrave was going to take it down the Thames, with only one oar, so he can hold the torch with his free hand. Laura – who sits diagonally opposite – suggested that “He’s Steve Redgrave. He can do that sort of thing”, although part of me does wonder whether he approached the Oxford rowing team for advice.

We went back to the car. Forty minutes later we’d moved twenty feet. To say there was a lot of traffic trying to leave would be an understatement. It was like the video for ‘Everybody Hurts’. The cars would shunt forward across churning turf, sputter, then come to a stop as drivers leaned out of windows and surveyed the distant stewards shepherding traffic through the entrance. I was anxious because I had a meeting, so to pass the time, Emily put on the radio, and we listened to the idiots on BBC Oxford talking to people at the side of the road:

Anchor: So, what’s your name?
Child: Hayley.
Anchor: And why are you here today?
Child [pauses, not sure whether or not this is a trick question]: Um, to see the Olympic torch?
Anchor: Is that exciting?
Child: Um, yep.
Anchor: Why is that exciting?
Child: Um, because it’s a once in a lifetime thing and we won’t get to, you know, see it again.
Anchor: But shouldn’t you be in school, young lady?
Child: Well, yeah, but I expect I’ll go in afterwards.
Anchor: Now, Mum, let’s have a chat with you. How excited are you to be here?
Mother: Yeah, you know, really excited. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, isn’t it?
Anchor: So you thought it was important to be here?
Mother: Yeah, you know, especially for them. You know, they won’t get to, you know, see it again…

And so on. Twenty times. Over the space of half an hour. By the end I was thumping the dashboard with my ear. I realised how much I hate local radio, especially BBC local radio. It was a display of mind-numbing vacuity rivalled in inanity only by the crowd reactions during the Royal Wedding last year – in which nervous anchors would ask people what they were having for lunch, only to be told it was Walkers crisps, which necessitated the hasty addition of “Other potato-based snack products are available”. At times, it even plumbed the depths of Fearne Cotton’s crowd interviews during Live8, in which she would routinely open conversations with unsuspecting audience members by asking “So, Jeff, are you here for the music or are you here to make poverty history?”. At least it wasn’t as bad as the time she got everyone to do a Mexican wave at a tsunami benefit concert.

It was mundane interview after mundane interview followed by upbeat jingles and news coverage that told us nothing useful (“The Olympic torch is…um, still going through Oxfordshire”), and it was something of a relief when they switched to an item about the logistics of organising the procession. At least it was, until we heard Sebastian Coe talking about his goal to maximise torch viewing: “We’d originally aimed for ninety-five per cent of the UK population within an hour’s travelling,” he said, “but we’ve managed to get it down to ninety-five per cent within ten miles of the route”. Emily looked at me, and I looked at her, and then we looked at the traffic, and we both shouted “THAT’S NOT NECESSARILY BETTER!”.

Still, I’m glad we went. My brother is apathetic about the whole thing – musing that this morning’s rain might be a sign of things to come during the actual games. “Imagine that,” he said. “Two weeks of solid rain and no contingency plan.” (I informed him that in the event of wet weather the Olympic Committee would be moving the games to the nearby church hall, where they’d spread the buffet on trestle tables, while David Cameron organised some indoor races.) I have never enjoyed sport, but a lot of people do, and I can’t begrudge them that. I wish I could say that the torch is a symbol of unified solidarity and a country coming together, but so many people seem to be opposed to the idea of us spending so much public money on the games that I can’t see that happening.

But for all that, I think it means something to our children. I’m second-guessing, but I got the feeling they’d latched on to the sense of spectacle. “And the thing is,” I said to the boys, as we finally turned out of the car park and grass gave way to gravel and then concrete, “it’s not about running a race. That torch – or variations of it – has travelled all around the country. And it’s something that everyone can see if they want to. So, you know, in a way, it’s not really a torch. It’s more than a torch, it’s a beacon. It’s a beacon of hope…and fortitude, and courage…it’s a beacon of love…”

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The Great Doctor Who Party (ii)

(If you’ve missed out on the earlier bits of this little saga, they’re available here. And here. And, if you’re really bored, here.) Let’s start with the suit, which we bought on Ebay.

That buffet, then.



I’d much rather forget the entirety of this one, but you can’t have a children’s party without pink wafers. It isn’t wrong, but we just don’t do it.

Job well done, I think. I can take no credit for this; I did the labels and took the photos. My other half did all the work.

As I may have mentioned, the Musical Weeping Angels was a non-starter, but everyone went for the find-the-monster quiz – even though we think it was sabotaged by the eventual winners, whom I’ve now decided hid the Empty Child picture after making a note of the number, which would explain why no one else could find the damned thing. Well, you can’t win ’em all. Literally, as it turns out.

Anyway, it all went off swimmingly, and himself enjoyed it tremendously. And that, of course, is the only thing that really counts.











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Spoilers, sweetie

Posted on by reverend61

I annoyed Joshua yesterday morning. Having promised him the night before that we’d spend the first part of strike day watching Doctor Who, we did just that – and then I promptly jumped up and switched off the TV before the ‘next time’ reveal.

From his armchair, Joshua blinked. “Isn’t there a bit about the next episode?”.

What I should have done at this point is lied to him. It would have saved an argument. It would have been a white lie, conscious of his feelings. But like a sleep-deprived idiot I told him the truth, figuring this might be a chance to teach an important lesson.

“Yes, there is. And we’re not watching it.”
“Oh, but why?”
“Because, just this once, I think it’ll be more fun for you if you don’t know.”
“But I just want to know what it’s about.”
“I know you do, Josh, but you’re going to have to trust me on this. I know what’s coming next, and I knew what was coming before the first time I watched it, and I think I would have enjoyed it far more if I hadn’t known. I think it’ll be the same for you.”

The trailered episode in question is ‘Army of Ghosts’ – which, as anyone familiar with 2006 Who will tell you, is the first part of the fanboy pleasing (but utterly third-rate) Daleks / Cybermen grudge match. There are three twists in this episode: the first is that the eponymous and supposedly benevolent ghosts are actually Cybermen punching through holes in the universe; the second is the unexpected return of Mickey Smith; the third is the revelation of the Daleks (no pun intended), who are discovered inside a huge sphere in the basement.

As I said before, it’s a rubbish episode, and the corresponding second part features an excruciating ‘reunion’ between a woman who is mourning her dead husband and a man who is mourning his dead wife – as well as the long and drawn-out departure of Billie Piper, and a needlessly overwrought farewell on a beach (Glamorgan, doubling for Norway). But none of that is going to matter to Josh, who is six years old, and who I’m convinced will get more out of it if he doesn’t know about the Cybermen / Daleks / Mickey return (and I know that even if he only sees the first of these, I’m going to get pressed for information until I give in, or put two and two together and twig that this is the Daleks / Cyberman match-up of which he’s heard me speak in the past).

The notion of controlled leaking is something that’s infuriated me about Doctor Who ever since its return. The newspapers are spoon-fed information by the BBC in order to keep anticipation levels up and enthusiasm tangible, but it means any element of surprise is gone. Stories abound about the return of the Master, the on-screen demise of Kylie Minogue and, in the last series, “the death of a major character” (yes, I know how that came out, but I’d rather not have known at all). Even if you don’t actively look for these stories they’re still run as front page news and thus the only way to avoid them is to engage in a total media blackout during a show’s run, or learn how to avert your gaze. What irritates me the most is that Moffatt then has the audacity to complain about the revelation of spoilers. His anger is palpable and completely unjustified given the revelation-heavy direction the show has taken over the years. You can’t court the press and then expect the fans to play ball.

I’m ambivalent when it comes to spoilers. It depends on the show. If it’s a programme I watch, I don’t want to know about it. It is a miracle that I managed to get through to the end of the final series of 24 having no idea, for the first time in years, as to how it ended, right down to the fate of the main character. I’d sworn that I’d stay dark, and by some miracle (given how much media I read over the course of the average day) I managed it. Conversely, I also know the ending of the final instalments of Lost and Prison Break without having watched a single episode of either. When it came to The X-Files, I simply got bored, giving up after series 7 and reading about the rest, as is customary, on Wikipedia.

Lawrence Miles has pointed out that if you allow a spoiler to define a show, you’re making bad television. “Possibly,” he says, “just possibly, the best way to deal with ‘spoilers’ is to make stories that remain watchable even if you know what’s going to happen. Rather than, say, stories that depend on relentless story-arc twists and idiotic clues as to what’s going to be at the end of the season. Y’know. Just a thought. From someone who knew the ending of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ several years before he actually saw it.”

As is customary, Miles overstates his case, but up to a point he’s right – certainly with regard to the Moffatt-led era where the twist is of paramount importance, and the logic of stories is seemingly reliant on obscure details that were planted earlier in the season, obvious to no one but the writer. At the same time, I still want Joshua to experience things properly. There’s a difference between producing television where the twists are basically the whole point, and television where they add a certain oomph without taking over. I knew about the father / son revelation at the end of The Empire Strikes Back from playground chatter almost a decade before I finally saw the film, but I can’t help thinking that the emotional impact of this moment would have been far more powerful if I’d seen it as it’s supposed to be seen. When you actually get to that moment, even if you know what’s coming, it’s overwhelmingly powerful, simply because it’s the last thing you expect.

Terminator 2 is another example. Its script was wasted on the audiences who flocked to packed cinemas in the summer of 1991, because the publicity for the film gave away its direction months before it was released. The first half hour has a clever, ambiguous narrative featuring the arrival of two Terminators (including one that we don’t even know is a machine), and the assumption of an audience familiar with the first film would be that Schwarzenegger’s character is once more the villain. It is not until the crucial first encounter between the two, and a two-way standoff that concludes with Arnold’s recommendation that John Connor should “get down”, that the Terminator’s allegiances are revealed – but by then, of course, we all knew anyway. When my wife first watched the film with me some fifteen years later, having missed out on the media hype the first time round, she was oblivious, and thus experienced this revelation with genuine and pleasing surprise, the way it’s meant to be.

I was thus determined that Josh should find out about Luke Skywalker’s parental lineage the proper, old-fashioned way, and despite several close calls we managed it (“It just goes to show,” he sagely commented afterwards, “that you should never trust strangers. Or Darth Vader”). I’m overreacting, but sometimes it’s just nice to keep something back, and it’s a joy when you experience something genuinely unexpected. I can remember the jaw-dropping twist at the end of ‘The Stolen Earth’, where the Doctor appears for a moment to be regenerating – an ending that was kept completely under wraps and that led to an explosion of online and offline debate and speculation in the week leading up to its utterly underwhelming denouement (when Tennant channels the regenerative energy into his spare hand, which conversely grows into a ‘human’ Doctor, or at least half-human on his mother’s side). In a way, we ought to have seen it coming: the fact that such an apparent bombshell was kept so beautifully hidden from the press and the viewing public at large should, given the show’s normal processes, have served as a sure fire indicator that this wasn’t going to be a regeneration at all, and that Davies would come up with a pathetic get-out clause. As, indeed, he did.

This stuff isn’t really a big deal, I know, but we’re so saturated with media now – trailers, adverts, previews, webcasts, magazine articles – and all the best stuff is played to death online and on previews a matter of days, and sometimes weeks before it’s screened. The X-Factor is a prime example of this, showing all its audition highlights in the ‘coming up’ segments that precede the many tedious commercial breaks, as well as leaking them to The Sun a couple of days before transmission, and therefore removing any sense of surprise and ensuring that you’re thoroughly sick of them. (I can remember a one-hour special starring Martine McCutcheon at the turn of the millennium when she spent most of her time between songs bigging up the duet she was going to do with Andrea Bocelli later in the show, with the net result that by the time it arrived, I no longer cared.) So I want to keep some things secret. And this is all well and good, but of scant comfort to the cross little person who, while all this was running through my head, was still sitting a few feet away from me.

“I understand,” I said, “that you’re probably quite cross with me right now, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am.” (He went on to prove it, too, when during an unrelated encounter later that morning he informed me that the only two things wrong in his life were me and his mother.)
“This is one of those situations where you’re going to have to trust me. You will thank me for this later.”
“At least give me some clues.”
“All right,” I said. “I’ll give you the name, and that’s it. The next episode is ‘Army of Ghosts’.”
He wrinkled his nose. “But how are ghosts scary?”

He’s probably too young for The Woman In Black. I will think about it.

(The episode that precedes ‘Army of Ghosts’, by the way, and the one we’d been watching, was ‘Fear Her’. But that’s shit.)

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